The Timberwolves fell to the Nuggets tonight in a game that featured what was probably their worst defensive effort of the year.
The Wolves got off to an unusually slow start in this one, with Kenneth Faried and J.J. Hickson running rampant in the paint and Ty Lawson making things happen off the pick and roll in the first quarter, as the Wolves, normally the aggressor early, found themselves down by nine at the end of the first.
By far their best stretch of the game came in the second quarter behind J.J. Barea's 5-5 shooting and a suddenly cold Nuggets team. The Wolves took a four point lead into halftime, but that was the last good moment as the Nuggets came out hot in the third quarter and the Wolves could not answer. A series of turnovers led to fast breaks, and soon the Nuggets were getting uncontested layups in the half court.
The Nuggets build their lead to double digits midway through the 4th quarter, and the Wolves were never able to mount a serious challenge until the last couple of minutes and by then it was just too late. An offensive rebound by Andre Miller of a missed free throw led to another free throw that wound up sealing the game for the Nuggets.
This game was disappointing. I rarely talk about things like effort because I think it's almost impossible to tell on our television screens how hard guys are going. But the Wolves collective failure on the boards and defensively for most of the game speaks to a team that was not fully engaged in the game. Kenneth Faried, who often seems to shine against the Wolves, had his way on the glass for stretches of the game, collecting five of his 10 total rebounds on the offensive end.
Meanwhile, the Wolves were not particularly helped by the referees, who let an immense amount of contact go for most of the game. The Nuggets were extremely aggressive in the paint, particularly defensively and on rebounds, and were able to win that battle in part because their physicality was permitted. The Wolves failed to respond in kind, and it hurt them for long stretches of the game.
Of particular note, the Nuggets played 11 players at least 13 minutes, and of their six reserves, four scored in double figures, and all scored at least six points. The Wolves played only eight players, and while J.J. Barea had a terrific game with 21 points, and Dante Cunningham had 12 off the bench, this game revealed how shallow the Wolves are at the moment. Derrick Williams did not play in this game; Robbie Hummel, at least for tonight, was the 8th man, playing 13 minutes and failing to score, and struggling defensively, like the rest of the team.
That's going to do it for the recap. The Wolves are back home tomorrow night against the Boston Celtics and will look to get back on track.
On another note:
As many of you know, prior to taking over the running of Canis, I didn't spend a lot of time in the game threads. It wasn't, and isn't, my thing. Now that I have some responsibility for the site, I have felt I should be in there. Perhaps that's a mistake.
I saw some things tonight that I didn't like. Someone, and I don't remember nor care who, called Robbie Hummel "worthless." Someone else referred to a player as "stupid."
You guys know by now how hesitant I am to ban, or even warn people; my great preference is to allow as much freedom as possible. And I'm sure you will all tell me in comments if I am overreacting. But I don't like comments like that, even in the heat of a game thread, and I don't know how much I will continue to put up with them.
I know that the game thread is for quick reactions, but a modicum of restraint is all I ask.